Temporal mandibular joint disorder, often abbreviated to TMJ, has a prevalence rate of between 5% and 12%. A painful condition that affects the temporomandibular joint in the jaw, it can cause significant discomfort and pain if left untreated. Capable of causing chronic jaw pain, headaches, difficulty chewing, and ear ringing, this is one condition that you shouldn’t just shrug off.
The causes of TMJ can include a misaligned bite pattern, frequent teeth grinding or clenching, arthritis, stress, or injury to the joint area. This means that there isn’t only one sure-fire way to acquire it. However, once you begin suffering from this condition, seeking TMJ treatments should be your number one priority.
The Dangers of Leaving TMJ Untreated
- Creating Other Medical Problems: Leaving TMJ untreated can lead to the creation of other medical problems over time. This chronic pain can also impact sleep and cause insomnia, making it harder to both fall asleep and stay asleep without the aid of sleep medication. Many patients who forgo treatment may also begin eating only soft foods or liquids which can negatively impact health even further, due to the difficulty chewing harder foods.
- Creating Additional Dental Issues: Untreated TMJ can also contribute to additional dental issues including worn down enamel or fractured teeth. Because sufferers of this condition tend to favor chewing on only one side, this can cause uneven wearing of teeth, as well as unsymmetrical muscle growth and swelling.
- Tinnitus and Other Jaw Problems: Because the temporomandibular joint is located directly below the ears, it can contribute to the development of tinnitus or compromised hearing ability. These inner ear problems can also cause other issues such as dizziness or vertigo. Furthermore, the jaw can likewise be negatively impacted, making the likelihood of lock-jaw more prevalent. This occurs when the jaw gets stuck in a permanently opened position and it will require a hospital visit to correct. If left untreated for too long, the cartilage can also wear down making dislocation a greater possibility as well.
How Orthodontists Treat TMJ
Braces are one of the most effective ways that orthodontists can treat TMJ. Beginning with an orthodontic exam, your orthodontist will be able to identify the cause of your TMJ and create a plan of treatment. Early orthodontic exams are recommended so that you can stop the progression of TMJ before it gets worse. However, if your orthodontic exam shows that the problem has progressed beyond what braces or guards can help correct, surgery might be required to rectify the problem.
TMJ is a painful and serious condition and treatment isn’t something you should put off. The sooner you begin treating TMJ, the easier it will be to fix. If you are currently suffering from TMJ, contact David Ross Orthodontics today to set up a consultation to get started on taking back control of your dental health.